Childhood Revisited: What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.
My earliest or maybe simply my favourite memory is an assignment I received at Monrad Intermediate (in New Zealand this is ages 5 – 12). The teacher wanted an essay where we wrote in the style of our favourite author and included ourselves in the story. It really was a no brainer for me on choices. it was always going to be The Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon. The series featured brothers Frank and Joe Hardy. I wanted to be their sister Laura Hardy and to solve crimes with them.
Now it is true that I could have written myself into the Nancy Drew series. It is virtually the female version of the Hardy Boys. But that series just never appealed to me in the same way as The Hardy Boys. I still remember feeling devastated on discovering that their authoress Carolyn Keene was the pseudonym of Dixon. I just felt completely betrayed. My young mind could not conceive of the same author for these two series, it just felt wrong. Which is kind of funny as I now love Nora Roberts’ writing as herself and her pseudonym J D Robb.
I can not remember the word limit but it was basically a short story. I had some problems with this. To be honest I have never found a word limit I didn’t tussle with and rarely on the light side of the required numbers. So I weaved a novel, full length with no similarity to a short story in any way. It had all the ingredients of a Hardy Boys tale but the brothers stepped back and Laura sprang into action. So insert self, actually became take over and improve! I have always owned my writing and found “copying”, even the style just wasn’t me.
I can not remember many of the details of the novel I wrote. Beyond the sheer joy I felt in writing it. I never enjoyed an assignment more than this one and it felt like a gift not work. I believe I even designed and drew my own cover art, I was always pedantic on all details. That may not have changed that much either. Not sure the teacher enjoyed it. We were meant to read them out loud to the class but mine was “a little” too long. So I had to summarise it, which meant, of course another write up to make it fit. Which I also loved doing.
As kids, that’s my brother and I, we got to choose our gifts. I always chose books because as soon as I could read, I wanted to read everything. Once I consumed the books, I wanted to create stories with all the wonderful new words I could now access. I remember winning a journalism competition and receiving a thesaurus, it was the single most amazing book I have ever explored and still have it. The story I wrote got published in the national paper but the joy for me was the thesaurus – and yes, this is way before internet and the millions of words available now.
Writing was never really a problem for me, it was always a gift. Well, when I was younger it wasn’t. There have been issues recently, namely the dreaded thesis, but I am back on track now. I am so lucky that this blog helped me to find my joy of writing again. I also found a new love in the poetry I write.
This one and all the memories have stayed with me. They often become the fodder for stories about that. Writing is just so important to me that they just stay in my memory, like a warm blanket to keep me safe and warm at night or in the horrid stretches of not being able to write.
Reading and writing have been a life long love of mine.
Long may it continue!!